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The Life You Want: Wisdom From Oprah’s Trailblazers

I was so fortunate to be able to attend Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend in Houston (Thanks, Toyota!). I posted about Friday with Oprah, but now I want to share with you what the second day was like.

Saturday was like an all-day workshop, with class being led by Oprah, Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell, and Iyanla Vanzant. These renown thought leaders were there to share with us their paths, their lessons, their advice on how to focus in on why we are here. Yes, just our entire purpose in life. No big deal.

Before she brought out her friends, Ms. O cued us in to the theme of the day by telling us: There is no Best Life without acknowledging the Spiritual Life.


10 18 2014 - LYWW- Houston

Most of us tackle the question of “Why Am I Here?” at some point. As Oprah shared with us on Friday night, we all have a thread to follow in our lives. Our lives are speaking to us and we must listen. However, in order for us to listen, we need clarity. We need to give ourselves the opportunity to be still within in order to gain that clarity. For this, she brought Deepak Chopra to guide us.

Dr. Chopra advised us that spiritual laws govern the experience of life. Some of his tips for keeping ourselves in a space of grace that allows us to be responsible for our lives (i.e. have the “ability to respond” to our lives) are:

1. See the world as a reflection of ourselves; if we change our inner state from fear to love we will see the world differently.

2. Understand the essence of relationships and that we ALL want attention and affection.

3. Make sure our intentions are not only for ourselves because our intention sets everything.

4. Learn to center ourselves in our true being.

5. Free ourselves from emotional toxicity.

6. Embrace the masculine and feminine energies within us.

7. Keep ourselves healthy with sleep, meditation, exercise, nutritious food, and a healthy emotional life.

After he shared this advice, he led the entire audience in meditation. The Toyota Center was completely packed – an audience of mostly women – and you could have heard a pin drop during the meditation. I have never been so relaxed and present among a crowd of thousands.



Elizabeth Gilbert is best known for her book Eat Pray Love, which chronicled her own personal journey. She shared with us how that story started and why it was so significant.

For her, the story started with a voice. The voice told her, “This is not your destiny.” Ms. Gilbert acknowledged that most of us have heard that voice in our lives and that it is our life speaking to us. She said that it is particularly difficult for women to heed that voice and take action as, historically, women do not do that.

Are you familiar with The Hero’s Journey? If you’ve ever seen a movie or read a book, you are. The Hero’s Journey has been part of the human experience since there were humans, but traditionally these stories have not included women. The Hero’s Journey is about the process through which a broken person becomes whole, but you can only go on it if you accept the Quest.

For Elizabeth Gilbert, this Quest required a great deal of upheaval in her life but she swears the upheaval part is not required. All that is required is to be willing to stop being what you are so you can become who you were meant to be. And for Ms. Gilbert that means living your life and not the life of someone else’s expectations.

She left us with this thought:

“The tale is much more interesting when you decide the hero is going to be you; What have you come here to do? BEGIN.”


10 18 2014 - LYWW- Houston

Dr. Chopra prepared our minds, Ms. Gilbert appealed to our gut, and Pastor Bell appealed to our hearts.

Pastor Bell shared with us that throughout the ancient languages, the word for “breath” and the word for “spirit” were often the same word. Our spirit – our breath – is essential to who we are. The miracle, he says, is that the universe chose to be generous with us and give us life.

As a pastor, he is often asked, “Why?” in the face of tragedy. His answer in those cases is a firm, “I don’t know. But I know you are here.” And that is the real miracle, he says. He pointed out that suffering raises all sorts of questions, but so does grace, gift, and generosity. Pastor Bell says the real mystery is how all of our experiences are used to shape us into our true selves. We must embrace the life we have in order to begin the life we want.

“It all matters — get out your fine china. What matters is NOW.” — Rob Bell



I’m pretty sure Iyanla Vanzant’s purpose was to kick us in the pants. She was there to close the deal, like a cool aunt who gives you a sip of her wine at Thanksgiving dinner before you are of age – and then asks you to do something your parents have been trying to convince you to do. Her down to earth manner brought all the points home.

Iyanla echoed the thoughts shared before her in that breathing is really all we are required to do. She also encouraged us to have a daily spiritual practice which will prepare us to handle all the bumps that come with life. Just as when you give birth to a baby, when you birth a new idea, a new part of your life, or any major change, there will be labor pains.

“Life is our friend,” she says. And she Life does not play tricks on us, our minds do. Ms. Vanzant relayed the idea to us like this: When you get new glasses or contacts and are amazed at how clearly you can see with the new prescription, it is because you had no idea you weren’t seeing everything before – your eyes adjust to the level of deficiency present.

She encouraged us to have a vision for our future and have the courage to make the changes needed now while we still have a choice in the matter.


When Oprah’s Trailblazers had finished, Oprah came out with Team Toyota athlete and Brand Ambassador Amy Purdy to present the Toyota Standing O-Vation award. Stay tuned – I’ll be writing more about the Houston woman who received that honor next!

My most sincere thanks to Toyota for providing me with a ticket to this event.  All images in the post were provided by and are property of OWN Communications.

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